Fans fear for 'Modern Warfare' games after bosses leave

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The Independent Tech

In a series of swiftly developing events, it appears that the Chief Technical Officer of Infinity Ward, the studio behind the record-breaking blockbuster game Modern Warfare 2, has been fired by parent company Activision. Though the lucrative series will no doubt continue at Activision's behest, Infinity Ward's contributions have always been of a higher quality and so the series' reputation is now at stake.

According to a report published by Activision on March 1, 2010, the company was "concluding an internal human resources inquiry into breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward," which would "involve the departure of key personnel and litigation."

The absence of those key personnel will be a concern to those who have been following the Call of Duty games, and in particular Infinity Ward's contributions which have provided the backbone for the seies.

Since coming up with 2003's Call of Duty, Infinity Ward developed three further associated titles: Call of Duty 2 (2005), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009). The rest, including 2010's expected iteration, were handled by other developers.

Review aggregation sites such as Metacritic or Game Rankings show that Infinity Ward's games routinely scored higher than their franchise counterparts. Though other games in the series sold well, they were unable to emulate the stratospheric success so far enjoyed by Infinity Ward.

Modern Warfare 2 was the best-selling game in both North America and Europe for 2009, despite its November release, and the fastest grossing video game of all time after making $310 million in one day, $550 million in five days, and $1 billion by January 2010.

Jason West, the company's now ex-CTO, was said to have met with Activision on Monday morning accompanied by fellow studio head and Chief Creative Officer Vincent Zampella. However, neither returned to the company's offices in Encino, California.

Instead, Jason updated personal profiles on social and business networking sites Facebook and LinkedIn respectively, both confirming that he was no longer holding a position at Infinity Ward. Zampella later did the same with his own LinkedIn profile.

Meanwhile, employees reported that several minders from a security firm had turned up at the offices, but were refusing to explain their presence outside the building.

It is thought that over the last few months, a good number of studio employees had become agitated by the prospect of solely developing for the Call of Duty series.

Though it's not known what lies ahead for West or his colleague, he is no stranger to forming breakaway companies. Infinity Ward itself was set up after his previous company were taken over by Electronic Arts, another publisher known for its emphasis on franchise development.

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